Vacationing families can choose from a wide variety of options for their 2007 recreational outings, from Lake Ontario to Long Island. Here's a list of hotspots to get you started. (June 2007)
Robert H. Cleveland Jr.
Whiling away precious summer days on non-fishing activities can be hard on an avid angler. Luckily, Empire State anglers don't have that problem. New York State has fine inland fisheries for salmon, trout, bass, walleyes, pike, muskellunge, shad and panfish, plus access to Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean bluefish, flounders, stripers and other saltwater game fish.
Next door to all these great fishing waters are state parks offering affordable family-friendly lodging, and villages with a variety of seasonal festivals, historic sites and amusements sure to please every member of the family.
Here's a list of prime New York family fishing vacation destinations for you to consider in 2007:
SUMMER ON THE ST. LAWRENCE
This region has everything that an adventuresome angling family could want. The St. Lawrence River, the main outlet for Lake Ontario, flows out of the northeastern tip of the great lake down a 1,200-mile course into the Atlantic. Most warmwater species are plentiful, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskellunge, walleyes, northern pike, yellow perch, crappies and bullheads.
Anglers can expect a good day on the water fishing from a boat or from one of the many docks and piers that dot the shoreline.
Grass Point State Park near Clayton sits on a point of land that juts into the American channel of the St. Lawrence, an area known for some of the best fishing in the country.
Grass Point has tent, RV sites and a rental cottage. The park has a marina and boat launch, a sandy beach with shallow water excellent for younger children, and a playground.
For information on Grass Point State Park, call (315) 686-4472. You can learn more about any New York state park at NYSparks.com. To make reservations, call 1-800-456-2267.
Keewaydin State Park, one mile west of Alexandria Bay, has 48 campsites overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The park has a sheltered marina, boat rentals, a swimming pool and a playground.
Call (315) 482-3331, or the reservation line at 1-800-456-2267, or go online to NYSparks.com.
Canoe-Picnic Point State Park is a peaceful boat-access-only campground with tent sites and cabin rentals. The area is wooded, with some nice hiking trails. South of the camping area is Picnic Point, where tables, shorefront cooking facilities and dockage can be found. The fishing here is excellent!
Call (315) 654-2522 for information on the park and boat rentals.
Cedar Island State Park spreads over half the island and features lightly wooded campsites. Access is boat-only, with best access from the public boat launch and parking area in the village of Chippewa Bay.
Call (315) 654-2522 for boat-rental information.
Cedar Point State Park, six miles west of Clayton, has tent and RV sites, a sheltered sandy beach and a playground. There are plenty of docks and a fishing pier.
There's always something going on in the nearby village of Alexandria Bay. The many historic buildings and homes add atmosphere, while the many special events add fun! In June, there are annual festivals devoted to 1920s boats and colorful gangsters, and the theme of one entire weekend is "Kids are King."
In August, the village is overtaken by pirates one weekend and power boaters on another!
For this year's dates and a complete listing of Alexandria Bay events, visit AlexBay.com, or call 1-800-541-2110.
Pay a visit to Aqua Zoo on Route 12 in Alexandria Bay, where over 100 aquariums of up to 1,500 gallons each exhibit views of fresh and saltwater species. See the sharks and explore the "touching tank," or take part in the many children's games and boat rides. Call (315) 482-5771 or visit AquaZoo.com.
Explore Boldt Castle's structures on Heart Island including the Power House, the Alster Tower, the Hennery, the Arch and a stone gazebo. There are other exhibits and a 15-minute video presentation.
Dockage is available for private vessels, or access may be provided via chartered boat tours. A shuttle from Heart Island provides additional access to the Boldt Castle Yacht House.
Call 1-800-847-5263, or visit BoldtCastle.com. For boat tours, call Uncle Sam Boat Tours at 1-800-253-9229, or USBoatTours.com; and Clayton Island Tours at (315) 686-4217.
Empire Boat Tours on Church Street offers narrated tours of the 1000 Islands (including Boldt Castle) and has snacks and a dinner cruise. Call 1-888-449-2539 for details, or log onto EmpireBoat.com.
Just minutes from the village is the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. Check out the displays of boats, motors and engines, take a speedboat ride or rent a skiff (which holds two to three persons) and explore French Creek. A half-hour guided tour of the 1903 houseboat La Duchesse is included in the admission fee, but visitors must sign up in advance. Snacks and beverages are available in the Gold Cup Building.
Call (315) 686-4104 or visit ABM.org.
The family sportsman will want to visit the Thousand Islands Museum at 312 James Street, which has special exhibits of world-class muskies, hunting decoys from past and present, a museum gallery and a library that offers a history of life along the St. Lawrence.
For information, call (315) 686-5794, or visit TIMuseum.org.
For more places to stay and things to do, call the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council at 1-800-847-5263. You can also log on to Visit1000Islands.com, or visit ThousandIslands.com.
At 51,072 acres, Oneida is the largest lake entirely within the Empire State's borders. Known as the "Walleye Lake of New York State," Oneida is 22 miles long and five miles wide. Its fertile waters are naturally enriched by several tributaries, offering anglers more fish per acre than any other lake in the northeastern United States!
In addition to walleyes, the big lake contains largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, panfish and bullheads.
Verona Beach State Park, on the lake's eastern shore, has tent and RV sites and shaded picnic areas adjacent to the beach and playground. The lake, along with Black Creek, borders cattail marshes and bottomland hardwood swamps, offering diverse aquatic habitats that make a trek on the Woods and Wetlands nature trail well worth the effort.
Call (315) 762-4463 for details.
Visit the Shako:wi Cultural Center in Oneida to learn more about the Oneida Indian culture and history. The Men's Council and Clan Mothers of the Oneida Indian Nation invite visitors to their impressive, handcrafted white pine log building filled with mementos and stories from the past and present. There is no admission fee.
Displays include the art of basketry, a Revolutionary War story, virtual artifacts, beadwork, carvings, dolls, traditional Iroquois headdresses, the Iroquois traditional game of lacrosse, wampum pouches and more.
Call (315) 829-8801 or visit Oneida-nation.net/shakowi.
For an old-fashioned carnival atmosphere, rides and traditional fair food, head to the Sylvan Beach Amusement Park on the shores of Oneida Lake. Admission is free, and printable coupons are available on their Web site. Rides range from kiddy carts to the extremes of the "Galaxy Coaster" and the "Bomber." There are several arcade and gaming areas for all ages.
If lunch is on your agenda, be sure to take the kids to the Beach Hut for pizza and a fish fry, Galaxi Pizza or Fries n' More (popcorn chicken bites, onion petals) before taking a stroll down Sweet Street, where vendors provide cotton candy, candied apples and other fair favorites.
For a cool treat, head to Cone Corner for ice cream, sundaes, milk shakes and floats.
For details, call (315) 762-5212 or visit SylvanBeach.com.
Just a short drive away in Rome lies Delta Lake State Park, which sits on a peninsula that extends into Delta Reservoir. Shoreline fishing is good here for trout, pike, bass, bullheads and perch.
There are 101 tent-trailer RV sites, a sandy beach, a boat launch, playground, on-site recreational programs and several hiking trails through wooded terrain. Call (315) 337-4670 for details.
While in Rome, check out Erie Canal Village on the New London Road. This 19th-century village recreation is an outdoor living history museum, complete with mule-drawn packet boat rides on the historic Erie Canal and narrow-gauge steam train rides.
It was here on July 4, 1817, that the first shovelful of earth was turned for construction of the original Erie Canal. The village has three museums (including the New York State Museum of Cheese!), samples of three old-type roads (dirt, plank and cobblestone) and many structures typical of the 19th century. Log on to ErieCanalVillage.net, or call 1-888-374-3226.
Operators of Fort Rickey Children's Discovery Zoo on Route 49 pride themselves on offering children a fascinating hands-on learning adventure. There's a petting zoo and a water play area. Both exotic and native critters live here. With the guidance of zoo staff, children are given the opportunity for close encounters with various animals, and petting the deer is a must!
Call (315) 336-1930, or visit FortRickley.com.
For a different type of fort experience, check out the reconstructed Fort Stanwix National Monument on East Street. This fort was where Revolutionary War patriots stood strong throughout a 21-day British siege in August 1777. The education center houses a timeline exhibit, audiovisual presentations, a bookstore and a museum collection storage area for 450,000 objects. Admission is free.
Call (315) 336-2090, or visit Nps.gov/fost.
When the fishing slows down, visit the Rome Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on the Rome-New London Road. Housed here are the Richie Evans NASCAR racing car and Jerry Cooks NASCAR memorabilia, plus powerboats driven by champion Dave Packer and sports exhibits including Olympic memorabilia. Call (315) 339-9038 for details.
Just a bit farther down the pike is more family fun in Utica. At Union Station, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad offers train rides from Utica to Old Forge. Call 1-877-508-6728, or visit Adirondackrr.com.
The Children's Museum on Main Street has plenty of hands-on interactive exhibits and programs. Visit Museum4Kids.net for details, or call (315) 724-6129.
The family jogger will want to stop by the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to distance runners and also houses memorabilia from the history of distance running. For more information, visit DistanceRunning.com, or call (315) 724-4525.
The family animal lover won't want to miss the Utica Zoo on Steele Hill Road. Meet the bears, sea lions, gibbons, snow leopards, tigers and many endangered species. Log on to UticaZoo.org, or call (315) 738-0472.
With the wide-open Atlantic Ocean on one side, Long Island Sound on the other, and family fun packed everywhere in between, New York's Long Island is an ideal family fishing vacation destination.
Long Island's extensive state park system offers affordable family fun in several locations.
Heckscher State Park in East Islip, about mid-island on the southern shore, has 69 campsites for vehicles under 11 feet high, a boat launch, a playground, hiking and biking trails and swimming in either Great South Bay or in the campground pool.
Call (631) 581-2100, the state reservation line, or visit the state park's Web site at LiCamping.
Minutes north is the Connetquot R
iver State Park Preserve in Oakdale. There are 3,473 acres of land and water reserved here for game birds, fish and animals. Deer and waterfowl are plentiful. Careful observers can expect to see rare birds nesting and rare plants as well.
Fishing is allowed by permit only, and there are over 50 miles of hiking trails. Call (631) 581-1005 for details.
Check out what's playing at the Airport Playhouse in Bohemia, where live theater includes everything from new Broadway releases to children's productions.
For more Airport Playhouse information, call (631) 589-7588, or visit AirportPlayhouse.com.
Aviation buffs will want to see the Bayport Aerodrome Museum, where an early 1900s turf airport is preserved. This living museum presents aviation history and is home to a wide variety of antique aircraft -- many still operational!
Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. For details, call (631) 472-2405, or log onto Bayportaerodrome.org.
If boats are your thing, check out the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville, which houses maritime history exhibits and a research center. Special events include a vintage boat show on July 14 and 15 and a seafood festival and craft show on Aug. 25 and 26.
Long Island's extensive state park system offers affordable family fun in several locations.
The museum is along the historic West Sayville waterfront. Displays include information about what was once the most productive oyster industry in the country and the many mishaps around Long Island's "shipwreck valley."
For details, call (631) 854-4794, or visit Limaritime.com.
Hither Hills State Park in Montauk sits on the narrow eastern tip of Long Island with the Sound on one side and the great Atlantic Ocean on the other. The park has 168 campsites, plenty of sportfishing access, a sandy ocean beach, a playground and hiking trails. Year-round fishing is allowed, but fishermen must obtain a permit for night angling.
On the eastern boundary of the park are the unique "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor. For details, call (631) 668-2554.
The nearby Montauk Downs State Park on Fairview Avenue has a driving range, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a wading pool for the little tykes, a restaurant and a clubhouse with grill room.
The park is best known for its championship-length 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Call (631) 668-3781 for details.
Vacationing families should schedule a visit to Montauk Point State Park, leading to the eastern tip of the island and the historic Montauk Lighthouse. The light was commissioned by George Washington and was built in 1796.
For more information, call (631) 668-2544 or visit MontaukLightHouse.com.
Surf fishing is excellent in the park, and the family can get in some hiking and seal watching, too. Call (631) 668-3781 for details.
Shadmoor State Park sits on 90 acres one-quarter mile east of Montauk Village. The park has more than 2,400 feet of ocean beach accessed by two staircases. Parking is free, and fishing is allowed.
Hiking trails and elevated viewing platforms offer great bird watching and shoreline views. History buffs will want to see the two concrete bunkers erected here during World War II and equipped with artillery guns to protect the coastline from enemy invasion.
For information, call (631) 668-3781.
Camp Hero State Park features a wooded landscape, long beachfront access to the Atlantic and a historic military installation. There are plenty of hiking trails and fabulous ocean views. Some of the best surf-fishing in the world can be had here, and it's open year 'round to anglers by permit.
The nearby former military base is registered as a National Historic Site. Call (631) 668-3781 for details.
Wildwood State Park in Wading River on the northern shore sits on 600 acres of forest overlooking Long Island Sound. Tent and trailer sites are available.
Wildwood has a playground, swimming, hiking and plenty of angler access! Call (631) 929-4314.
For more fishing information, call the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's Bureau of Fisheries at (518) 402-8920, or visit www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/.
For more travel information, log on to ILoveNy.com, or call 1-800-225-5697.
Find more about New York fishing and hunting at: NewYorkGameandFish.com